Kuwait's emir Sheikh Nawaf laid to rest in small ceremony

Kuwait's emir Sheikh Nawaf laid to rest in small ceremony
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was laid to rest in a private ceremony attended by his successor and select family members.
2 min read
17 December, 2023
The late Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah assumed the throne in 2020 [Getty]

Kuwait's late emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was laid to rest on Sunday at a private funeral attended by select relatives, a day after he passed away.

Draped in a Kuwaiti flag, the coffin of Sheikh Nawaf, whose cause of death was not disclosed, was carried into a Kuwait mosque for prayers ahead of a burial ceremony that was broadcast on state television.

Attendance was limited to members of the ruling family, making for an intimate and low-key farewell for the ruler who reigned for three years. The speaker of Kuwait's parliament was also present.

"The choice reflects the late emir's low profile character," said Bader al-Saif, a history professor at Kuwait University.

The incoming emir Sheikh Meshal, who is expected to deliver his oath before parliament on Wednesday, attended the service.

He will receive condolences on Monday and Tuesday from the wider public.

During Sunday's burial ceremony, rows of relatives stood at Shiekh Nawaf's final resting ground and performed prayers.

Some crouched before his grave, cupping their hands, and reciting verses from the Quran.

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Across Kuwait City, large digital billboards displayed pictures of the late ruler, dubbing him the "emir of wisdom, forgiveness and peace".

Flags where lowered to half-mast amid a 40-day mourning period that will also see government offices shut until Tuesday.

Speaking outside the mosque where the funeral took place, Kuwaiti citizen Ghanem al-Sulaimani said he was saddened by the man he called the "emir of humility and forgiveness".

"He left a great legacy... distinguished by his great love for his people," he told AFP

Born in 1937, Sheikh Nawaf took over as emir in September 2020 upon the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah, at the age of 91.

He issued numerous amnesties for political prisoners, earning him the nickname "emir of pardons".

One of his last moves before his death was the signing of a draft decree approved by cabinet late last month, demanding the release of dozens of political prisoners.

Sheikh Nawaf was defence minister when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, setting off a war that drew in armies from around the world to end the occupation.

And he was interior minister when Kuwait faced a severe threat from Islamist militants in 2005.

The episodes deeply marked the country, but Sheikh Nawaf's low-profile style meant he remained a relatively popular figure.